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Before the Cow Palace, before the United States, and before the Spanish empire, Visitacion Valley was home to the Ramaytush Ohlone people. The Valley's abundant wildlife, native plants, and waterways helped the Ohlone flourish here for thousands of years.













We wish to acknowledge that this property sits on the unceded homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone people and is the ancestral territory of the Miwok, Yokuts, and Patwin, as well as other Ohlone peoples. It is the intention and hope of the Friends of the Cow Palace, that all who gather at the historic Cow Palace are doing so with respect and recognition of Indigenous people and First Nation members and elders, and of all the Native peoples for whom the greater Bay Area is their ancestral home.


When Spanish colonists arrived, Visitacion Valley changed dramatically and became a ranch-based community that ended the traditional Ohlone way of life. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded Visitacion Valley from Mexico to the United States.

The vision for the Cow Palace began to take shape soon after the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition and World's Fair.  With the huge popularity of the Fair's livestock pavilion, plans began to be formed for a permanent pavillion in the Bay Area. Built during the Great Depression of the 1930s as part of the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Cow Palace opened in 1941. When the US entered World War II soon after, the Cow Palace was immediately pressed into service to support soldiers bound for the Pacific Theater.

Since 1941, the Cow Palace has welcomed over 50 million visitors at countless events, concerts, rallies, and celebrations.

"History is alive at the Cow Palace!

Its lessons must be preserved for the

education and inspiration of future generations."

Rock 'n Roll History


The arena has hosted the world's most famous rock n' roll musicians from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to the Beach Boys, from the Jackson 5 to Elvis Presley, The Who, the Grateful Dead, KISS, Van Halen, Prince, U2, Nirvana, and many many more.

Agricultural & Rodeo History


The Cow Palace continues to serve the agricultural community--the largest economic sector in California. The Cow Palace continues to engage, entertain, and remind us where our food comes from. Hopefully, the Cow Palace will continue to inspire an interest in becoming much needed future farmers of America.


Sports History

The Cow Palace has been home to many sports including boxing and wrestling, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, pro tennis, and even roller derby! Hosting athletes from Wilt Chamberlain to John McEnroe, the Cow Palace was the original West Coast home of the Warriors. Other sports teams included the San Jose / Golden Bay Earthquakes, San Francisco Seals, San Jose Sharks, and San Francisco Bulls.

Fairs, Festivals & Circus History


Recurring Cow Palace events such as the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Exotic Erotic Ball contributed to the rich tapestry of culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, ongoing events such as the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show continue to provide a unique contribution to Northern California.

Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey 1948 Cow P
Political History


Major political events hosted at the Cow Palace include the 1956 and 1964 Republican National Conventions. Then presidential candidate Senator John F. Kennedy chose the Cow Palace to announce his plans for a "Peace Corps" and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at the 1964 Republican Convention Platform Committee about the critical importance of the Civil Rights Amendment.

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